Drop by any marketing conference and you are bound to hear plenty of buzz hyping the wonders of Account Based Marketing, or ABM as it’s referred to by all the people in our industry practiced in the near athletic skill of acronym-dropping. There are some big reasons ABM is getting a lot of press these days. For one, the promises implied in the latest research statistics are positively intoxicating.

87% of B2B marketers report that ABM delivers a higher ROI than other marketing initiatives

208% more revenue is generated by companies who use ABM than those who don’t

84% of companies say ABM has significantly impacted client retention

Researchers maintain the reason ABM is critical to everyone’s plan of attack is because it delivers big on three critical marketing KPIs: reputation, relationships and revenue. Obviously, ABM is a good thing, but exactly how and where do you begin? You take steps, and we’ve got six you can easily put into motion this year so that your company can reap the rewards of adding ABM to its marketing strategy.

Step 1: Identify Your Targets

ABM is not for everyone — literally. It requires you be exclusive in who you market to. With ABM, your focus is not on how many you reach, but who you are reaching. Instead of casting a wide net and seeing who might respond to your campaigns, an ABM approach requires that you think about who your ideal customer is first, and then create a marketing campaign tailored to their specific interests. In the past, this level of personalization simply wasn’t scalable, so ABM was relegated to star sales team members charged with keeping a select group of the company’s most important clients happy. Today, marketers have the unique opportunity to widen the horizons of their sales funnels – ironically by narrowing their focus and spending the majority of their time, efforts and budgets on a select set of ideal customers.

Step 2: Assemble a Customer Think-Tank

Resist the urge to assume you know who your ideal customers are and instead conduct a series of brainstorms. We recommend gathering a group comprised of one to two representatives from all departments that interact with customers along their journey. Encourage everyone to have the mindset of a customer and discuss their needs, wishes and expectations for your company’s products/services. Next, develop three-dimensional customer personas that that tell a detailed and realistic story about each customer-type. Last, discuss perceived differences between your customer personas and the type of customer drawn to your top competitors.

Step 3: Get Your Data Ready for its Leading Role in ABM

Once you have your ideal customer personas created, it’s time to check their accuracy and your data is the ultimate barometer for this task. If you haven’t connected all the data sources across your company, and cleaned and enriched your lists, now is the time to make that a priority because you can’t really engage in ABM when the data you have on your current customers is lacking or outdated. You need clean, high-quality customer data, so that you know precisely which of your customers are spending the most; what their current demographics are (location, company size, title, etc.); and what campaign pieces are helping them say yes faster.

Step 4: Automate Your Data Analyzation

Having good data analysts on the team is akin to holding a winning lotto ticket, but finding and keeping these unicorns is tough during the current shortage. The smart way around this quandary is to outfit your martech stack with a data dashboard. These unbiased insight generators are great for managing and analyzing large volumes of data in short order and empowering you and your team to actually see the big picture before taking actions. Look for one that can measure your marketability across channels, identify ideal customers you may have missed, and produce reports on-demand.

Step 5: Prepare to Get Personal With Customers

ABM is about taking the Jerry Maguire approach to customer relationships in which you make each member of your selected target groups feel like he/she is the most important customer. As Dicky Fox, Maguire’s legendary mentor states in the movie, “The key to this business is personal relationships.”

Contrary to some marketing pundits, the age of content is not over, it’s just evolved into the age of highly engaging, laser-targeted, remarkably personal content.

In order to market to every customer in a one-on-one way that resonates with each deeply, but won’t break your content budget, use the customer personas you developed in Step Two. This enables you to create a series of campaign pieces that speak to the unique needs, wants, expectations and aspirations of each of your targets. For example, let’s say you have five buyer personas identified and all subscribe to your newsletter. To provide each of these five segments with a personal experience, you can use your marketing automation platform to aggregate the content by topics of interest and then send variations of your newsletter that prioritize topics according to the interests of your segmented list.

Step 6: Create an Amazing Cross-Channel Customer Experience

As you mine your data and create a variety of segments based on customer preferences, make sure you pay close attention to how they want to talk to you and develop your campaigns accordingly to ensure they enjoy a seamless experience. While on the outset it may seem intimidating, creating a well-coordinated and personalized multi-channel campaign is relatively simple, thanks to user-friendly plug-n-play content management tools, like Activate, that imbed in your marketing automation platform. Regardless of the channels you choose (SMS, RSS, Chat, email, etc.), integrated content management tools allow you to automate the process of sending personalized pieces by using content and attribute data from your marketing and sales systems. In the end, it makes your quest to send the right information to the right customer on the right channel nearly effortless, and you in turn reap the calculable advantages of being a more strategic ABM hero.

Sara Moseley
sara.moseley@sureshot.io

Sara Moseley is a writer, who enjoys covering the ever-changing landscape of marketing and technology.